Beauty tips for women going through chemotherapy

Published: 08 Feb 2018

Chemotherapy wreaks havoc with our bodies and keeping up appearances can be difficult.  For many, this is a daunting prospect but there’s no reason to give up.  Making an effort with our appearance has psychological benefits; we feel more confident and happier.  A smudge of lip gloss, a shaped eyebrow, and a dab of corrective concealer can go a long way.  So, why not give yourself a boost with these simple beauty tips?


Moisturizing and hydrating is very important for your skin’s health during and following treatment – you may already have a skin routine but be aware some products you use could start to irritate your skin post-chemo. You might need to alter your routine; maybe try some hypo-allergenic cleansing and hydrating products which are suitable for sensitive skin.

Because your is so much more sensitive try not to not rub too hard and stress the skin – massage gently in small circular motions or smooth with gentle strokes.

Make Up

Chemo can cause the general tone of your skin to become paler or blotchy and uneven.

If you have this problem, try using a green colour corrector before you apply your foundation. The

green tint helps to tone down any redness, giving you a more even and natural tone.

You can also try contouring.  This is a way of using lighter and darker shades of make-up to help define your features. There are loads of great video tutorials available online to guide you.

Some good alternatives to foundation are tinted moisturisers and bronzing powders, which help to give off a radiant glow.  When using bronzing powders, use a large make-up brush and gradually build the colour until you achieve the desired look.


One of the side effects of chemo can be losing your eyebrows, although this is less likely than your scalp. To help boost the growth of your eyebrows, try using chemical-free rapid growth serum with 

nutrients that boost hair growth.

You can fill in the gaps of thinning brows with a pencil and powder; to achieve a more definite eyebrow shape try applying with an eyebrow stencil.  For a longer-lasting option, take a look at microblading.  This is a type of semi-permanent tattoo.  You can find out more information about microblading and other tips from Camilla Seton’s guest blog she wrote for us back in November.


As for eyelashes, you could try applying false lashes with a chemical-free adhesives. Falsie’s are in fashion at the moment so there’s an abundance of choice in the shops – just snip them to size with a pair of scissors.  Fill in any little gaps at the edge of the eye where you apply the lashes by using a liquid or gel eyeliner.


If you’re having trouble with dry or cracked lips, try using some moisturising lip balm to rehydrate – you’ll probably need to apply more regularly than usual.  If your lips are sore you may want to try using a lip salve to help heal and soothe.

Few things have as much of an effect for so little effort as lipstick, and luckily a lot of them are moisturising too.  Apply natural colours for a healthy look, or brighter, bolder colours to stand-out.  Choose a semi-colour lipstick or coloured lip gloss if you’re looking for something a little more subtle.

By using a lip liner in a slightly darker shade than your lipstick you can accentuate your lip shape, giving them a fuller look. 


Chemotherapy can leave your nails ridged and brittle.  Try to find some nourishing nail oil or cream to help strengthen them – massage in gently morning and evening. Some people find keeping their nails shorter than normal helps keep them in better condition.  You could also try using a smoothing multi-file to both smooth and shine the nail.  

If you have ridges on your nails, try using a ridge filling base coat under your varnish or alternatively a coloured nail varnish with glitter.  A simple ‘French manicure’ will always give the appearance of healthy, well-maintained nails as well as creating the illusion of length.

If you have discolouration in your nail beds, use a darker coloured varnish.  Alternatively, salons have great options like nail colour ombre, where they blend the colour from a dark to lighter.  And it’s always adviseable to use a clear or special base coat to stop any nail staining.

There’s a growing number of great nail varnishes that don’t contain harmful chemicals such as formaldehyde and toluene.


Eimear Coghlan is a beauty therapist who has experienced chemotherapy first hand and believes in a bit of bling is the secret to staying stylish and lift the spirits.  If you enjoy jewellery, step it up a notch or two and load on the bling! If you’ve never accessorised before then this is a good time to start. 

Take a tip from Eimear - statement earrings and a cool necklace will jazz up an outfit and take the attention away from any hair loss.  It doesn’t need to be pricey – there’s some great affordable costume jewellery online and in local stores.

Or you could start making your own – that way you’ll can capture your own style with some original pieces;  it might even turn into a hobby or a boredom busting diversion during treatment!


If you have any of your own tips that you’d like to share with the community, then join our Facebook group here.